By the time the World Series rolls around the weather can be a real issue. The ball games are played in the last half of October, and the games are played at night, so it’s almost certain to be cold in northern markets, and rain and even snow can occasionally be a factor. Handicappers need to give the weather more consideration in the World Series than they do any other time of year. The reason for that is simple – if one MLB team is used to the weather and the other isn’t it can be a big advantage. Even if both teams are relatively comfortable with the cold it can have a big impact on the way the game plays out and the decisions that managers can make. Here are four different areas that are affected by cold weather in the World Series that may influence baseball handicappers:
Starting pitcher issues – The cold is the enemy of starting pitchers. The list of problems they can have are many. It can be tough for a pitcher to get warm before the game, and they can tighten up during the game because of the cold. It can be harder for them to keep a good grip of the ball, and to maintain good feel. That can have an obvious and significant impact on a pitcher’s control. It can also be hard for a pitcher to stay warm in between innings. That can cause them to tighten up – especially in a long half inning – and that can have an impact on how long a pitcher can last and how far into a game he can last.
Reliever issues – As baseball bettors know, starting pitchers aren’t the only guys with potential issues in these cold weather games. Relievers face many issues as well. The feel and grip issues are the same for them as anyone else, and staying warm can be an issue for them as well if they pitch more than one inning. There are other issues for relievers as well. It can talk longer for pitchers to warm up in cold weather, and that can have an impact on impatient managers and the decisions they are able to make in some circumstances. It can also be much harder on relievers to have to warm up multiple times in a game when it is cold, so managers need to be careful not to burn out a guy in the bullpen before he gets to use them.
Hitter issues – Pitchers certainly don’t like the cold weather, and some guys are going to be far less effective as a result. Unfortunately, a lot of MLB batters aren’t going to be in a position to exploit those issues. The cold can have a big issue at the plate. The cold has a big impact on the hands of players. Cold hands don’t have as much feel, and they hurt a whole lot more when they get rattled by a pitch that comes off the bat the wrong way. Hitters are also tighter because of the cold. That can impact their flexibility and swing range at the plate, and that can impact their power. That tightness can also have a big impact on the base paths – runners can be slower, and it can be much easier for guys to get hurt or tweaked. The most significant impact the cold can have on hitters is in the air, though, Balls that would fly out of the park on a hot night will come down far short of the fence on a frigid night. That can turn a hitter’s park into one pitchers don’t mind, and can have a big impact on teams that rely heavily on the long ball. That doesn’t mean, of course, that a ball can’t leave the park in cold weather. It just means that only the really well hit balls are going to go out, and some of the more marginal hits won’t.
Fielding issues – We’ve talked about grip all the way along, so it only makes sense that we talk about it here – grip is a huge part of effective fielding. Guys in the field struggle to keep their hands warm, so their grip on the ball won’t always be a god one. In cold weather, then, you’ll see more errant throws. That’s an issue for any ball team, but can be more of an issue for teams that aren’t particularly strong in the field at the best of times. On really cold nights guys can struggle with their feel in their gloves as well. Visibility can also be an issue on cold nights when the moisture in the air condenses to form cloud or fog. That fog can combine with the bright lights to distort things and make life difficult. That can add an extra challenge for outfielders, and as a result it’s more common to see fielders judge balls wrong or start in the wrong direction before correcting and moving the right way.All of these aspects need to be considered by baseball handicappers looking to making winning bets.